Lucy Jones

Lucy Jones is an award-winning journalist and the author of four books including the bestselling Losing Eden: Why Our Minds Need the Wild (a Times and Telegraph Book of the Year) and most recently Matrescence: On the Metamorphosis of Pregnancy, Childbirth and Motherhood, a New Statesman Book of the Year. Her first book, Foxes Unearthed (2016), won the Society of Authors’ Roger Deakin Award and was longlisted for the Wainwright Prize. Her writing on ecology, health and science has been published by BBC Earth, The Sunday Times, GQ, Emergence Magazine and the New Statesman.

TITLE OF THE TALK: Matrescence & matroecology 

During pregnancy, childbirth, and early motherhood, women undergo a far-reaching physiological, psychological and social metamorphosis. This is matrescence, the process of becoming a mother.

There is no other time in a human’s life course that entails such dramatic change-other than adolescence. And yet this life-altering transition has been sorely neglected by science, medicine and philosophy. Its seismic effects go largely unrepresented across literature and the arts. 

Drawing on research across various fields – neuroscience and evolutionary biology; psychoanalysis and existential therapy; sociology, economics and ecology – Jones will show how the changes in the maternal mind, brain and body are far more profound, wild and enduring than we have been led to believe. She reveals the dangerous consequences of our neglect of the maternal experience and interrogates the patriarchal and capitalist systems that have created the untenable modern institution of motherhood.

She introduces matroecology, developed in her book MATRESCENCE, which could be described as using the hidden topographies of maternal and maternal-adjacent subjectivity as a “thinking apparatus” (Pollock) to see and illuminate the modern world, its ways of seeing, stubborn myths and social agendas; and using the non-human world as a thinking apparatus to make visible maternal subjectivity; to consider the both more clearly, and generate imaginative and regenerative possibilities and alternatives, new ways of envisioning the present and the future, and relational reality, at a time of interlinking political, social and cultural crises.

Areas that matroecological thinking might illuminate include paradox, duality, repair, vulnerability, interdependence, the sublime, lack of control, the power of nature, symbiosis, individualism, collective fantasies of motherhood and the ‘natural’, our relationships with each other and the living world.